I’ve never written a “(#) of Reasons” article before, but thought I’d give it a try since this topic has been on my mind for a while and I don’t really know how to effectively share it without going the point-form route. Apparently, making a list based on 3, 5 or 7 points is an effective way of allowing readers to remember them and not be overwhelmed with information. Granted, each point should be relatively brief and concise. I may falter a little in that regard.
A few things have come up recently that have had me suggesting considerable attention and budget designation to the design and marketing portion of a business plan. I’ve come across a few examples of very thorough business plans either allotting very little, unrealistic, or dare I say, sometimes no budgets to the creative aspects of their business. I strongly believe based on both experience and education via reading or other means, that design is one of the most important aspects of any successful business. As one of Pricedyment’s brand statements says, “Rapidly growing businesses rate design as the second most important factor in their success.” This was something we discovered as part of a reputable U.K. study done in 2004. Keeping that in mind and observing design’s effect on business, from that point of view, I can honestly and confidently say, it’s true.
These days, with the rapidly changing economy (positive and negative changes), many businesses are working to adapt. Some people are stepping out and opening their own businesses, and many businesses are revising their objectives for the months and years to come. All of this requires planning and detailed consideration of all aspects of their work. That includes image, branding, and communication.
By referencing my own client experiences and observations, hopefully the following will provide some thought-provoking reasons to pay considerable attention to the role of design in your business’ growth and success. There are certainly more reasons that other designers, marketers and business owners can share. It’s always valuable to talk with such professionals for their thoughts and ideas.
In no particular order of importance…
1. Dressing for success
There’s a saying that dressing for success attracts success. It goes without saying that first impressions count for a lot. Your business makes a first impression based on what it looks like externally, and very often, that is determined by what it’s wearing.
Good design may not be perceived as such by clients/customers, especially if they don’t know anything about good (effective) vs. poor (ineffective) design. However, they are subconsciously affected and even guided or deterred by design. Colours, fonts, composition, visual flow, spacing, imagery and more elements of and approaches to design, all take part in contributing towards feelings of calm, trust, and comfort. The same can also trigger the reverse of each.
As a business owner, you want yourself and your employees to reflect confidence— in yourselves, each other, and your product or service. Knowing and being aware that you have invested in and achieved an image that not only reflects your product and yourself, but provides that sense of comfort, trust and professionalism to your clients and customers will contribute to the confidence you impart. Handing over a well designed, nice-to-the-touch business card or brochure leaves a client with a sense of quality, noticed attention to detail on your part, and one more possibility to stand out from the crowd. The more senses you can please, the better.
4. Think quality
Quality costs money. No matter how amazing a website designer or print designer may appear to be, their pricing reflects both their self-worth as a designer and can indicate their future willingness to pay close attention to details and your preferences. Pay more, expect more. I recently saw an advertisement posted by a photographer looking for a website. He was willing to pay $100.00 for it to be designed and developed. A good photography website immediately means images and probably many of them. Therefore, a gallery would likely be in order. The increased necessities go on from there. Responses to the the post were primarily from professional designers asking if the photographer would shoot and develop the photography for something such as a wedding for a similar price. A guaranteed, “No.” Consider what your product is worth. What you spend on your product directly reflects how much confidence you have in it and how much confidence customers will have in it, as well. They won’t see the invoices from your designer, but they’ll recognize the quality and suspect it didn’t come cheap. In turn they see that you invest in your business and yourself. That will translate into an expectation that you will invest in them.
5. Think ahead
If you are confident in your business plan, have received good feedback from the right people to request feedback from, and believe in yourself and your product, you are likely expecting growth. The branding and identity of a new business or a that of an existing business can be done in such a way to be both budget-minded and also considerate of how to add to it in the future as your business grows. These days, most businesses start out with a logo, stationery, business cards, website, possibly signage and advertising. Depending on the business type, the order of these may vary, but for the most part it would happen as shown or in many cases (and recommended), simultaneously. Releasing a new image with all items at once is far more effective than handing a business card out with your website address to a homepage that says, Under Construction with a a little animated construction worker waving back—you probably just lost a customer. Yet, this can be countered by putting up a temporary homepage while the rest of the website is being developed. That temporary page may have your contact info, brief descriptive information about your product or service and definitely reflect the branding being developed. Adhering to this process of initial brand establishment creates not only a good foundation from which to have your business’ image perceived as complete, but also ready to carry out other marketing and brand initiatives that may soon follow—advertising, annual reports, packaging, signage, apparel etc.
6. Establish relationships
People want to be part of something. In business, establishing relationships is extremely important. Before I go to the large box hardware store in town, I stop in at the small family hardware store to see if they have what I need. I get personal attention. When I walk in the door, I’m greeted by name. They take interest in what I am up to and don’t simply help me find what I need and escort me to the register. Adding to the service and people, the store is clean, organized, well signed and I feel comfortable being there. What am I part of when I go there? The community. Their hopes to grow their business and compete with their competition become hopes of our own. We root for them and as we become part of that community, however small it may be, we are in turn rooting for ourselves. When I am at that store, I feel like I’m still part of a small town and these days, part of an exclusive group of people that knows the guys at the store and wants them to do well. I feel I’m contributing to something good. I like to recommend people go there first for something—bonus: word of mouth. Give off an image of being a company or group of people that customers want to be part of. They’ll keep your card and show it to others because it’s kind of cool, or really nice, or simply indicates that they work with a good company. Most people know that if you seek quality, you likely offer quality. People want to be part of something that indicates their penchant for quality, fun, being ‘hip’, and being part of a community with those characteristics. Don’t tell customers you seek to establish a relationship. Show them. Let them feel they are becoming part of one—part of something good. Eventually, they’ll be rooting for you.
7. Inspiration. Motivation
Good design can inspire and motivate your customers. If they see a cool logo on a well-presented storefront, they are more likely to be motivated to step in and see what you offer—because it too, is probably pretty cool. The same results apply to packaging, advertising, publications and so on. Your creativity can inspire that of your customers. People like to be inspired and feel creative, and will usually follow through on it with action that promotes the sustainability of that feeling.